Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Lessons from a Neglected Garden

Over the past month or so I have really neglected the garden. We've had a little rain, so I haven't had to water it every day, but I have had to turn on the sprinkler once a week anyway, to keep things from drying out. The weeds are enormous - truly huge! I have never let the weeding get away from me like I did this year, and when I once entertained the idea of doing something about it, the weeds were already so large it would have disturbed the root systems of everything else to yank them out. So there are 3 and 4 foot weeds in there, seriously.

One of the few bonuses of the weeds is that they have certainly shaded the soil well, and kept the rain that does fall from evaporating immediately. It has kept the soil surface cooler as well, which some of the plants have liked a lot (in particular the beans and carrots).

Because of the extent of my neglect, I may be able to collect more seed than I otherwise would have. Many of my radishes went to seed, and the flowers they put out were really quite lovely. And now there are a zillion seed pods ready for picking. My two varieties of bean plants produced much later than last year, so much so that I didn't think they were going to produce at all. But they did, seemingly all of a sudden, and now I have huge bean pods that are probably way past eating as green beans. Fortunately, one of the varieties I grew was dual purpose anyway (the Golden Rocky bean), and so I will just harvest them as dry beans for over the winter (and seed for next year). The other variety (Tanya's Pink Pod) was interesting to look at and very pretty, but I don't think I will grow many of them next year. I will still save some seed though.

I managed to thin the carrots out once in early Summer, but otherwise they are really growing way too close together. Despite this, they have grown quite big and fairly straight, and since I haven't been grazing on them all summer long, there are actually a lot of them left to harvest and store for the Winter.

My neglect also resulted in my harvesting very few new potatoes. The plants have all yellowed and wilted now, and have been that way for a couple weeks, which means the skins will have hardened and they will be better suited to long term storage. That works well for me, since we had new potatoes almost all summer from our CSA farm share (and probably will have many more weeks of these yet).

So, while I wish I was more on the ball this year with my garden, I have been pleasantly surprised at what will grow anyway, despite the weeds and the overall carelessness and inattention. I'm hoping next year will be a bit of a middle path between my gung-ho hypervigilance last year, and my distracted neglect this year.

Now, if the first frost will just hold off for a few more days, I will dig, pick, dry and otherwise harvest my little heart out this weekend!

Radish pod picture courtesy this foraging blog.

6 comments:

Simply Authentic said...

Glad you're getting so much produce out of it this year though! Sometimes it's incredible what nature will do when just left to its own devices ;-) Enjoy, enjoy---especially now that you have enough to get you thru part of the winter too! ;-)

Theresa said...

Thanks SA - it really is incredible to sit back and watch what nature will do all by itself. I finally have motivation again (September does that to me), so I will enjoy harvesting what nature has provided :)

daharja said...

Sometimes it is good to let things go to seed. I've got a real Chuck Norris of a lettuce that I hope will go to seed - it has been so tough, and survived winter outside, that I want its seeds!

So see the solution in the problem, as is the permaculture, and enjoy the seeds! :-)

Aimee said...

I wandered over from SoapBoxTech. What a nice blog you have going. I, too, neglected my garden shamefully this year and have only seeds to show for my efforts. Well, a few winter squash are toughing it out. Good luck!

Theresa said...

Daharja - that is one seriously Chuck Norris lettuce you have! I will enjoy the seeds, thanks :)

Aimee - thanks for coming by and taking the time to comment :) I may get seeds and just seeds this year, since we had quite the frost last night, one day before I was going to harvest everything! And no frost warnings either. Dang.

risa said...

>if the first frost will just hold off for a few more days

We can always hope, neh?

Actually we've got a prediction of two more days at 90+F here next week. Gads, the garden acts like it's a 100 year old teenager ...